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One More Peaceful Day

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In a fit of goodwill, or perhaps a canny PR plan, the network holds a fundraising bash in the name of a new, controversial poet. This ties directly with the premiere of a new half-hour program about literature which, an advertising director mutters to her, will be boring as paint, but improve public perception of the station overall.

Bridget finds she doesn't care so much, if there's a party with champagne and those little sandwiches shaped like animals, and a hot, young, bisexual Italian traversing the room, thanking each person for attending his fundraiser effusively, and with tongue.

It's halfway through the party when she gets distracted by a sloppy catfight between Tom and that bitch from accounting, and she loses track of Mark.

It takes her seventeen minutes to make her way about the room, being distracted by the hot, young, bisexual Italian (again), and a tray of stuffed mushrooms.

Finally, though, she turns past a potted plant next to the elevator, and finds Mark. With Daniel. Kissing Daniel, to be precise.

She blinks three times, deliberately, because she has had quite a bit of bubbly, and perhaps she's having one of those episodes they talk about in Cosmopolitan.

"Well," she pipes up, and they break apart from each other, mussed in a rather artistic way. "That's the spirit, boys."

"Bridget--" Mark says.

She holds up a hand. "I think," and she concentrates very carefully on her enunciation, "your dedication to the cause is admirable." She takes another sip of champagne, and raises a fist high in the air.

Then she passes out, but gracefully, managing to slump against the wall and not flip her skirt up.

*

 

She's tempted to pass it off as a hallucination, but when Mark kisses her goodnight, later in bed, he smells like Daniel.

Bridget finds she much preferred to think their antagonism was about her and not...

Well. She prefers not to think about that, either.

Very much.

*

 

Bridget doesn't dislike Daniel, not really, aside from the rampant fuckwittery. He's an amusing person to know, particularly when you're not emotionally invested in him.

So when Daniel appears at a dinner party, one a friend of a friend of a friend is hosting, she's not altogether displeased. She would, after all, prefer to discuss politics with him, instead of babies with the friend of a friend of a friend who invited her.

While consuming a complicated martini, she notices Mark smiling at one of Daniel's over-rehearsed bon mots. Or, not smiling, but trying not to smile.

After that, she starts to count the number of times it happens. Eight, for the record.

Later that evening, she stares at Mark from across the bed.

"What?" he asks, and she loves the way his mouth tilts.

"Were you very good friends with Daniel?" she asks. "Before?"

Mark's lips thin, and she almost flinches.

"We were close, at one time," he replies.

She wants to ask more, but he leans to her and kisses her shoulder, and she forgets the question.

*

 

Mark's birthday comes round, and she wants to find a suitably embarrassing picture of him to enlarge for the party. She knows he keeps old school things in his study, so she sneaks in one afternoon and investigates. He's at his desk, surrounded by manila folders, but he only smiles at her briefly before returning to his work.

Left to her own devices, Bridget pulls out random photo albums from the bottom of his bookshelf. Stuffed in the back of one album, she finds a packet of old photographs.

In one, Mark has his arm slung around Daniel's shoulders, and Daniel's arm is around his hips. She stares at the curve of their smiles, and the way Daniel's fingers curve around Mark.

"What have you got there?" Mark asks, voice absently curious.

She flutters the photo like a fan. "If I didn't know any better," she teases, "I'd think the two of you were shagging."

She means it as a joke, but there's a sudden weight to the room, and when she looks at Mark, he's staring at a spot high on the ceiling.

Something flickers in her brain. "You...weren't. Were you?"

Mark sets his jaw, and she decides she's going to scream very soon. But he's gone before she can, past her and out the door.

*

 

"Am I mannish?" she asks Tom, over the phone. "Do you find me attractive in a mannish way?"

Tom snorts. "I am not attracted to you in any way at all," he says.

"Oh, good," she sighs. Then she frowns. "Not even a little bit?"

"God," Tom responds, and a very long discussion ensues.

*

 

She calls Mark at his office.

"When did you start to like women?" she asks brightly. "Did you always? Or were you forced to deny yourself by the oppressive heterosexual society?"

"I don't have time for this, Bridget," Mark says. "I'll see you this evening."

When he hangs up, she chokes on her tea.

*

 

She watches Daniel during the staff meeting, because the discussion is yet again about demographics, and she has nothing to contribute to the statistics.

Daniel's hair is rumpled, his tie is askew, and she has a good idea of what he did during his lunch break. But with whom?

She wonders if Mark knows about that sound Daniel makes when you bite that spot just behind his ear.

She wonders if Daniel knows Mark is ticklish behind his left knee, and then she gets a very graphic mental image.

"Oh, god," she bursts out, and an art director breaks off mid-sentence.

"Bridget?" she asks.

Bridget coughs, then again for effect. "I forgot to turn off my iron at home." She stands. "If you'll excuse me."

She sneaks back to her office and dials Mark again.

"Is Daniel a better shag than me?" she demands.

Mark sighs. "Bridget, really--"

"Say something dirty to me," she interrupts. "Right now. Be specific."

After a moment, Mark says, "I have an appointment. Thank god."

"Mark!"

"This evening, Bridget." There's almost a smile in his voice. "I promise."

"Fine," she says, and hangs up, and pouts.

And when she notices Daniel standing in front of her desk, she yelps and throws a box of paper clips at him.

The bits of metal patter down to the floor like rain, and three get stuck in Daniel's hair.

He leans over her desk and grins, the grin that always turns her legs to jelly, as well as other, unspeakable places.

She clears her throat. "Yes?"

His tongue touches the corner of his mouth, and she stares at it, mesmerized, until he starts to speak.

"I'll tell you," he murmurs. "Every single, filthy detail. Everything you want to know."

"Really?" she asks, and she can't keep from sounding breathless.

He nods, and reaches out. Brushes his fingers against her chin.

"Invite me to your house for dinner," he says. "Tonight."

She bites her bottom lip, and nods.